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[whitespace] Bush Trimming

Bush Whacked

One woman's very personal protest to the new prez

By Genevieve Roja

A razor in the hand is worth something to Emily Hofstetter.

Frustrated and disheartened with the ballot ballyhoo, the Florida recount and Dubya's ultimate victory, Hofstetter, the 34-year-old co-founder of SiliconSalley.com, stepped into her shower and decided to take it all off.

All day, she had been running over the conversation she had with her mother, a Palm Beach County resident. Mom couldn't believe that the votes of 19,000 people in her county were going to be disqualified completely.

"I thought, 'Wait a second, this is totally out of control that these 19,000 people are not going to be counted,'" recalls Hofstetter, on the phone from New York.

With that frame of mind, she entered the shower and began shaving her legs. Then she kept on going. And then the words kept coming. A close shave, cutting it close ... all the euphemisms to describe a narrow election. When she got out she wrote in an email forwarded to approximately 2,500 people saying that she had begun chanting, in a mantralike state, "No more Bush, no more Bush ..."

"I looked down and started laughing hysterically and thought, 'Wow, this will make me feel better, this is my performance piece for me,'" recalls Hofstetter. "I got rid of it and felt a little more powerful. It brought control to the situation, a little freshness if you will."

Feeling newly empowered, Hofstetter--who launched the interactive online magazine SiliconSalley.com in early September 1999--banged out an email and received feedback on her deed almost instantaneously. One friend told her that the now infamous email had reached someone in England. Her chiropractor's mother, an older Jewish radical feminist, caught wind of Hofstetter's mow-down and told her she was considering following suit. But for every email of support, there was the Are-you-crazy? and This-is-immoral corps with an affinity for degrading, four-letter words. Some frowned on Hofstetter for encouraging readers to take such drastic action.

Shaving for solidarity isn't a new concept, of course. Fathers, sons and daughters and friends have been shaving their heads in a show of empathy for cancer survivors for years. Football and water polo players routinely shave their heads before game day or maintain the cut an entire season.

And Hofstetter's isn't even visible, for crying out loud.

"It wasn't a call for people to shave their pubic hair," says Hofstetter, clarifying the matter. "It was more, 'How do you help people from being left out of a crisis?'"

She feels she's giving a voice to the cause, in the way SiliconSalley.com became a soapbox for women breaking glass ceilings, innovating and creating. Women who were making it after all were being ignored by the media, a fact that prompted Hofstetter and a friend to launch SiliconSalley.com from a 56K computer in Hofstetter's kitchen. The website boasts not only a magazine, but a broadband talk show and talk radio section that may be accessed using a computer. The website is attracting new users and contributors everyday, which will no doubt multiply thanks to her shower epiphany.

"I never meant for this to do anything but spark some discussion and dialogue," she says, "and what better medium [is there] to use than email and the Internet? It was just meant for this."

In her years as a vice president at a firm--she declines specifying which--and as a writer, screenwriter, musician, former chef and restaurant owner, she says she's never done anything this drastic. And no, she is not saving her clippings for Dubya, as was reported January 2 in online mag Salon.com. "Save the clippings, bag them and send them to our clown prince president for his inauguration. Better still, let's all go to the inauguration and throw the 'bush clippings' at our new president like confetti at a ticker tape parade!" But Hofstetter, who says she will be bush-free during Dubya's four-year term, doesn't own up to the clipping rally, insisting that it was just a joke between her and her friend Kara in Chicago, and by no means should anyone take the joke seriously. She is still, however, attending the inauguration.

"I never planned on pelting anyone with my pubes," Hofstetter says. "I didn't intend to do something disgusting; that's what getting people so riled up."

In response to the "bush clippings," one woman wrote Hofstetter claiming that releasing them would be a sex crime.

"Yeah, like I'm going to scratch someone's eyes out with a pubic hair," says Hofstetter.

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From the January 18-24, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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